A Naval Biographical Dictionary/Sinclair, John Gordon

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SINCLAIR, Bart. (Captain, 1814. f-p., 20; h-p., 28.)

Sir John Gordon Sinclair, born 31 July, 1790, is only son of the late Sir Robt. Sinclair, Bart., Lieutenant-Governor of Fort St. George, in Scotland (whom he succeeded as eighth Baronet 4 Aug. 1795), by Madalina, second daughter of Alexander, fourth Duke of Gordon.

This officer entered the Navy, 1 Sept. 1799, as a Boy, on board the Mars 74, Capt. John Monckton, with whom he served in the Channel until Feb. 1800. Joining next, in April, 1803, as Fst.-cl. Vol., the Amphion 32, he sailed in that frigate for the Mediterranean with the flag of Lord Nelson, whom he followed as Midshipman, on their arrival, into the Victory 100. After pursuing the combined squadrons of France and Spain to the West Indies and back, he removed, in 1805, to the Amazon 38, Capt. Wm. Parker, in which ship he continued employed in the Mediterranean, West Indies, Channel, and North America until within a week of his promotion to the rank of Lieutenant, 7 July, 1809. He was in consequence present, 13 March, 1806, at the capture, after a long running fight and a loss to the Amazon (in company with whom was the London 98) of 4 men killed and 5 wounded, of the Marengo 80, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Linois, and 40-gun frigate Belle Poule. His next appointments were – 11 July, 1809, for two months, to the Blake 74, Capt. Edw. Codrington, part of the force engaged in the expedition to the Walcheren – 1 May, 1810, to the Menelaus 38, Capt. Sir Peter Parker, under whom he contributed to the reduction of the Isle of France – and, 11 Feb. 1812, after rather more than four months of half-pay, to the Diana 38, Capt. Wm. Ferris, in the Channel, where he cruized until the ensuing April. On 13 Aug. in the same year he was made Commander into the Redwing 18; and in that vessel he was again very actively employed in the Mediterranean. On 31 March, 1813, we find him commended in high terms for the able manner in which he covered the boats of his own vessel and of the Volontaire and Undaunted 38’s when, under Lieut. Isaac Shaw, they destroyed the batteries and captured a convoy at Morjean.[1] In an attack made, 2 May following, by the boats of the above ships and of the Repulse 74 on some other vessels collected at the same place, the fire of the Redwing proved of equal efficiency. With the boats of the squadron under his personal direclions. Sir John Sinclair, after the powerful batteries at Cassis, a town situated between Toulon and Marseilles, had been carried by a detachment of marines under Capt. Jeremiah Coghlan, entered the mole and brought out two heavy gun-boats and 24 vessels laden with merchandize. He had previously, to cover the marines, swept the Redwing in with much perseverance, accompanied by the Espoir 18, Capt. Hon. Robt. Cavendish Spencer, and had taken up a most judicious position, although exposed in doing so to a heavy fire from the batteries.[2] His conduct was very warmly applauded by Capt. Thos. Ussher, the senior officer present. This exploit was achieved 18 Aug. 1813; and on 6 June, 1814, Sir John Sinclair was advanced to Post-rank. His appointments have since been – 1 May, 1815, for nearly four months, to the Larne 20, stationed on the coast of France – 1 Feb. 1825, to the Doris 42, fitting for South America, whence he returned in 1829 – 17 Dec. 1842, to the charge of Naval Stores at Gibraltar – and, 8 Sept. 1846, to the superintendence (with his name on the books of the Victory) of the Packet Establishment at Southampton.

Sir John Sinclair is Deputy-Lieutenant for Caithness and Haddingtonshire. He married, 15 June, 1812, Anne, only daughter of Admiral Hon. Michael De Courcy, niece of John, 26th Lord Kingsale, by whom he has issue. His eldest son, Robert Charles, is an officer in the 38th Regt.; and his second, John Michael De Courcy, an officer in the Madras Artillery. His second daughter is the wife of Capt. Hon. D. W. A. Pelham, R.N. Agents – Messrs. Stilwell.


  1. Vide Gaz. 1813, p. 1148.
  2. Vide Gaz. 1813, p. 2011.